Showing posts from June, 2013

The Varnish Vanishes

In "The Milwaukee Road Olympian - a Ride to Remember," author Stan Johnson recalled the transition from steam to electric power of the Milwaukee's varnish in the Harlowton Yards:  the train glided silently away from the station and yards, under the quiet pull of the electric locomotive.  Feeding the electric lines that ran above the train were the brick substations located at intervals along the line west of Harlowton.  Here at Two Dot, MT was Substation One, 1347.5 miles from Chicago. Two Dot (or Twodot as it is known by some sources) was named for a local cattle ranch and first established as a station by Milwaukee Road predecessor, the Montana Railroad.  Following the acquisition by the larger transcon, the location was selected for the first of the railroad's substations that would accompany the line from here to Avery, ID and the termination point of the Rocky Mountain Division electrification.  The Two Dot substation suffered a fire prior to the abandonm

Down the Yard Throat

The view above is the last one of Harlowton, for now.  The image looks east, down the throat of the large yards that once held the lands here.  The old station and signal stand just to the left of the plow and Deer Lodge's yellow mule.  The skies overhead are gray, and the day is one of a cool spring where the sun struggles to break free, highlighting just a few square feet for only seconds a time.   Railfans and photographers traveled from near and far to this place to capture the 'lasts' that included the Little Joes and western electrification.  Then there were the last Dead Freights, and the last of the salvagers that passed this way.  On this day there is only one photographer here though, looking down the yard throat and gazing backwards at what was, wondering what could have been.